19th Hole: Drew Barnett

By |  July 9, 2019 0 Comments
Drew Barnett (Photo: Seth Jones)

Photo: Seth Jones

Drew Barnett

Superintendent // Knollwood CC, Lake Forest, Ill.

Drew, what can I get you? I’ll have a beer … any IPA.

What’s the golf season been like so far for the Chicago market? Wet and cold! We had the wettest May on record, and that came after our wettest fall on record. It’s always a cold, wet spring here … but hopefully this breaks soon.

Tell me about Knollwood CC. It’s a great family club with a lot of activities. It’s a beautiful layout. As far as playing it — you have to keep it below the hole, in the short grass.

What are your sports teams? No. 1 is the Penn State Nittany Lions football team. Everyone else after that is No. 2.

What was your favorite class at Penn State? Organic Chemistry. It was a weed-out class, and I got an A in that class. I’m still proud of that … and I also still have nightmares about the class.

What’s your favorite tool in the shop? A cup-cutter. It’s the best job in the morning, and you get to see the whole golf course. I try to cut cups three or four times a week.

What do you like about living in northern Chicago, and what do you recommend to people who visit here? The great thing is, I’ve got a 15-minute commute to work, but I’m also a 40-minute train ride from anything in the world you could want to do. As far as what to do, I always tell people they need to go to Wrigleyville, catch a Cubs game, then get a beer in Wrigleyville afterwards.

How is your crew here? We have an awesome staff. Half of our crew has been here 10-plus years, and some of the guys have been here 20-, 30-plus years. There’s a lot of great experience, and the guys are happy to train the new people and welcome them to the team.

You mentioned to me out on the course that you haven’t struggled with labor here at Knollwood. Why is that? I think it’s for two reasons. One, we’re the closest golf course to the largest Hispanic population in Chicago. And two — and most important — the club supports us with competitive hourly wages.

You were previously at Philadelphia Cricket Club, a great course. And now you’re at Knollwood, another great course. To what do you attribute your success? I’ve worked for the right people at the right types of places — places that do a lot of projects or are well known for their conditioning. You have to do that more than working locally … that sets you apart.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, June 14, 2019.

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